Quarter of UK adults with mental illness

More than a quarter of adults in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life, with a fifth reporting depression, figures show.

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New data from the Health Survey for England found 26 per cent of more than 5000 adults surveyed said they had been diagnosed with a mental health problem at some point.

The data, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, found depression was the most common diagnosed mental illness, with 19 per cent saying they had received this diagnosis at some time.

Twenty four per cent of women, compared to 13 per cent of men, have suffered depression.

Half of those surveyed said they had experienced their mental health problem in the past 12 months.

The data showed that mental illness appears to be more common in those who have suffered from it for a long time, or who have a limiting physical illness that has been going on a while.

About 40 per cent of men and 39 per cent of women who have ever been diagnosed with a mental illness say they have a long-standing mental or physical illness.

About three per cent of men and five per cent of women have self-harmed, while four per cent of men and seven per cent of women have reported suicide attempts, the data showed.

About 31 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder in their lifetime.

The figure is higher for men and women with the lowest incomes.

Rachel Craig from NatCen Social Research, which collected the data, said prejudice against people with a mental illness still existed despite it affecting so many people.

“This survey leaves us in no doubt as to the prevalence of mental ill health in England,” she said. “As many as one in four people suffer from a mental illness at some time in their lives and one in five with depression … there is some resistance to the provision of community care for people suffering with mental ill health.

“Men are more likely to hold prejudiced and less tolerant views than women. But there is evidence that if you know someone with a mental illness you are less likely to hold negative views.”